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Border Line

Border Line

The external borders of Europe and the waters of the Mediterranean remain deadly obstacles for those who try to join our civilisation. It is their shipwrecked ghosts that I invoke to present their courage and innocence. My praise and homage to them.

Invited to an artist’s residency at Lumiere d'Encre Gallery near Perpignan, I decided to echo the given theme, ‘The Border’, rather than to document it literally. My pictures should look like opera scenes.

Fascinated by the Elsewhere as well as the astonishing proximity of the Banal and the Sublime, I use a large format camera. My photography is inspired by both the Duesseldorf School and the Romantic Painting.

Thanks to Lumiere d'Encre, Musee d'Art Moderne de Ceret and to all my friends who helped me to realise this project.

I have a godchild in the Himalayas whom I have known since childhood. For his twentieth birthday, I invited him on vacation with us. Unfortunately the French authorities stubbornly refused him a visa. Revenge on the fate, he is now an aircraft technician! This work is dedicated to him, his name is Skarma Zangpo.

…it is their shipwrecked ghosts that I invoke to present their courage and innocence, my praise and homage to them. My pictures should look like opera scenes

These ghosts are multiple exposures taken on the same sheet-film, no need for a computer to obtain this effect, a nineteenth century photographer could very well have produced exactly the same image.

Richard Petit / 9lives- magazine

Act 1 Scene 1

The smuggler arranged to meet K. at the aircraft cemetery near the airport. The stage is occupied by a dilapidated plane which shoots out from the background, perfectly symmetrical. The tough negotiations will take place under the wings of the tattered Airbus ...

Jean-Claude Liehn

Covid versus Voie Off, two symbolic survivors Richard Petit and Antoine d´Agata.

The 2020 edition of the Rencontres d'Arles canceled due to the pandemic, the deserted city is reacting with all kinds of initiatives identified in Arles Contemporain... and the resistance of Voies Off ...

Christian Gattinoni /

After being forced to cancel, death in the soul, its fantastic organisation dedicated to "all contemporary photography", Voies Off, whose 25th anniversary, has opened its gallery to an old friend. Richard Petit exhibits his work shot in artist residency at Lumière d´Encre in Céret. This profound work evokes metaphorically the Border, its impact on everyday realities.

Thierry Maindrault / L'oeil de la Photographie

La frontière en documents fiction grand format

Richard Petit had tried in his first series to avoid the human presence to better sublimate the dizziness felt in the face of the world and remain critical of man's action on nature. The splendor of the natural sites that attracted him justified the embarrassment of his large format photographic camera in his wanderings. The 4x5" folding tool provides the precision of the natural rendering, as well as the obligation to exercise slowly and enter into synergy with the site.

In the Himalayas, he went in search of another civilization. In Ladakh as in Nepal, men and places resonate in unison.

Facing the Ocean, at the Chassiron lighthouse, his radicalism is confirmed to the point of retaining only one image which he nevertheless considers as a series, since it is supposed to embody all the others remaining mental: “I like the paradox of an ocean reduced to almost nothing”.

In residence in Ceret for Lumiere d’Encre, he multiplies his efforts to stand up, as suggested by the etymology of the word border, a military term which literally means “to face” or “to be close to” its various territorial and geographical components. The triptych of the broken plane which opens its exhibition reveals it undone, as if in kit form, seeming to foresee the travel compromised by the pandemic. He also does not fail to denounce with humor the artificiality of the lines, their absurdity even in the middle of a road.

Completely renewing his vocabulary, he does not hesitate to take a close-up of Van Gogh-style shoes… But the most sensitive images of Border Line are these deliberately blurred alignments of male bodies which make us aware of all these migrants who disappear from our daily screens while trying to risk their lives to cross the borders. At the edge of the shore or in the depths of the forest, the ghostly views of these castaways are overwhelming, between document and fiction. They are all the stronger as a more bucolic final counterpoint shows a father and his child looking out to sea in the light of the rising sun.

Christian Gattinoni (Google translated) / /